TikTok model Bri Scalesse called Delta for breaking her wheelchair
- A model and disability advocate called Delta for breaking her wheelchair during transport.
- Bri Scalesse said the chair was irreparably damaged on the road from St Paul to Newark on July 4.
- Airlines damage thousands of wheelchairs a year, a problem companies have been slow to resolve.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
A TikTok star and disability advocate called Delta Air Lines in a viral post for breaking his wheelchair in transit and ruining his trip.
Bri Scalesse told Insider that the “dehumanizing” experiments highlight a recurring problem in which airlines do not take care of wheelchairs and end up causing problems for passengers with disabilities.
Scalesse, a model and disability advocate, handed her chair to airport staff when she boarded flight 3737 from St Paul, Minnesota to Newark, New Jersey on July 4.
She said she had been to the Midwest for a wedding with her boyfriend. But after the flight home, she realized that her chair had been irreparably damaged.
In a TikTok video filmed shortly after the theft, Scalesse told his 478,000 subscribers: “Today my freedom and independence have been taken away, and I don’t know how I’m going to live my life.”
She told Insider that her boyfriend first noticed the damage to the chair, when one of its casters (a small front wheel that helps the chair maneuver) no longer touched the ground.
The frame had buckled, leaving the break pushing on the wheel. The balance was also out of balance, leaving Scalesse to lean to the side as she sat down in the chair. The damage had left the chair virtually unusable.
âI was immediately in shock,â Scalesse told Insider.
She said Delta staff referred her to baggage services, which she described as “dehumanizing” given the importance of the chair to her.
âIt happens because our wheelchairs are really treated like baggage, not like an extension of our body,â she said.
“And I think that’s where the beginning of the problem begins, is that they are not considered part of us, our wheelchairs and medical devices are not considered part of us.”
In a statement to Insider, Delta said its staff “viewed a wheelchair as an extension of a person,” and said it was speaking to Scalesse about what had happened.
Scalesse said issues like this are common for people with disabilities. In her TikTok, she said: “I want, my community wants, to discover the world, we want to travel, and we don’t want to be afraid that at the end of a flight our freedom is not there.”
One of Scalesse’s friends happened to him the same thing. Gigi deFiebre’s chair was broken – also by Delta – during a May trip from New York to Phoenix, which Scalesse also highlighted in a viral article on TikTok that has been viewed 17 million times.
Scalesse told Insider that deFiebre was still waiting for repairs to his chair seven weeks later due to mistakes made by the repair company.
Scalesse told Insider: “I think it’s not an individual problem, or an individual problem, or even an individual airline problem. I think it’s a deeper systemic problem. 26 wheelchairs are damaged. per day by US airlines. “
“It amazes me that this can continue to happen without any changes being made … whether it’s a specific area for medical devices under the plane, or, I think most people would love to have our chairs on planes with us, even if not us in them, to have them tied up somewhere on the plane. “
Figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation show thousands of wheelchairs and scooters damaged each year on flights, with 10,548 damaged in 2019, as Insider’s Talia Lakritz reported.
In a statement to Insider regarding Bri Scalesse’s wheelchair breakage, Delta said, âWe view a wheelchair as an extension of a person and understand that any mishandling of this mobility device has a direct impact on their lives. daily We work affirmatively with the client to understand what has happened.
âWe are proactively working with our Disability Advisory Board and interdivisional operational teams to continually improve the travel experience for our customers with disabilities. “